First of all, this is a great thread. My conflicted feelings about the orb scene, my pros and cons, are pretty much exact to the back and forth between you guys. Cappy at the start of this page, especially, nails the thematic meaning of the scene, the reading that seems true to me. There is one thing I'd like to emphasize though;
N. Needleman wrote:Are we referring to some other BOB? Frank Silva never exactly played it subtle.
This is something I think has fallen prey to the numbness of familiarity; that is, we're so used to our idea of Twin Peaks as a kind of monolithic thing that we become blind to what it actually was; and I don't mean it in a sort of elitist, condescending or pretentious "you're just wearing rose-colored glasses!" way because I fall victim to it myself as well. And as part of rewatching the Return and the original, it's become part of the primary experience for me to sort it out. For just one example, I initially thought the Las Vegas subplot was somehow weirdly thematically removed, and it wasn't until rewatching the original that I was reminded of the half-series length motifs of One Eye'd Jacks.
Similarly with the orb scene, I was initially taken aback and found it like something out of a Hollywood horror movie or superhero flicks. However, like N. Needleman points out, BOB was always over the top. In fact, my initial repulsion to the orb scene finds a perfect mirror in the original series: the train-car scene in the Season 2 opener. When that happened, I felt the show had devolved into an X-Files, paranormal anything-goes place, which felt super cheap to me, and it didn't scare me at all; I just felt, in that moment, that it was going to become very easy to drop the plot threads and chalk it up to demons or aliens. And yet now it's one of my all-time favorite scenes in the series and freaks me out.
And, in general, I used to hate BOB; he'd show up and I'd be put off by what I thought was hammy acting. A lot of his appearances are literally staring into the camera and just laughing menacingly. But at some point over time, and I don't know when, it just crossed some threshold and became unnerving to me; how direct, unhinged and uninhibited the acting, like a real maniac coming at you, is near primeval an effect. Similarly, now when I watch the orb scene it's somehow, miraculously, only increased in its effectiveness. The disorienting editing, the stage design and lighting, the facial acting, the effects and especially the brutal sound design make me clench when I watch it and I feel almost exhausted afterward. The uncanny quality seems to lie in how little it regards its own aesthetic or narrative coherence. It feels hostile, almost demonic. So the orb scene fits snugly into a lineage, to me, of something that was always weirdly broad but despite that, was technically effective.
Recipe not my own. In a coffee cup. 3 TBS flour, 2 TBS sugar, 1.5 TBS cocoa powder, .25 TSP baking powder, pinch of salt. 3 TBS milk, 1.5 TBS vegetable oil, 1 TBS peanut butter. Add and mix each set. Microwave 1 minute 10 seconds. The cup will be hot.